Posted by: janecronin | October 21, 2018


“Dejar” is an innocent looking verb which doesn´t change its forms in any unusual ways, but has a number of related and interesting meanings.  We usual learn the meaning of “dejar” as “to leave”.  This does not mean “to leave” a place (“to leave the house” is “salir de casa”), but “to leave” something, such as food or a message.  An expression that can be useful to learn in some circumstances is “déjame en paz” which means “leave me alone” (literally “leave me in peace”).  Whether or not you are likely to use this phrase, it illustrates clearly the principal use of “dejar”.

“Dejar” can also mean “to let” in the sense of “to allow” or “to permit”.  You may also know the verb “permitir” which is what you more often see on signs and in more formal contexts.  However, in everyday speech we can use “dejar” in this way, for example “Déjame ver” (let me see) “Mi madre no me deja salir” (My mother doesn´t let me (allow me to) go out).   In Spanish there isn´t a one word translation for “to drop” so we say “dejar caer” (to allow to fall).

A third meaning of “dejar” is “to lend”.  Again, we have another verb “prestar” when the lending is more official or formal.  In other words a bank would “prestar dinero” and a library will “prestar libros”.  However, if I just want someone to “lend/pass” me something such as a pen or a piece of paper, I would say “déjame un boli” – in which case I would presumably give it back, or “déjame un papel” in which case I probably wouldn´t.

Believe it or not, there is yet another meaning of this very useful verb.  When it is followed by the word “de” it means “to stop” doing something:  for example, “voy a dejar de fumar” (I’m going to stop smoking); “ha dejado de llover” (it has stopped raining).  You might say to a child “Deja de molestar a tu madre” (stop bothering your mother).

“Dejar” can also appear in the reflexive form “dejarse” (to allow oneself).  “Dejarse llevar” is “to allow oneself to be led”.  When children or young people are talking about their exams, they use the verb “dejarse” to refer to subjects they have either failed (and therefore have left to re-take) or literally leave to sit at a later stage.   So, if you have passed six exams out of eight, you would say “me he dejado dos”.  “Dejarse” can also be used in the sense of “to forget”, that is, “to leave something behind by mistake”.  “Me he dejado el móvil en casa” (I’ve left my mobile at home – by mistake).    Just as “dejar caer” is “to drop” so “dejarse caer” is to allow oneself to fall.  It’s the sort of thing you do when you’re completely exhausted – “me dejé caer en la cama y me dormí enseguida” (I dropped onto the bed and fell asleep straight away).

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